The Sunday Mail
Election time is often a season of uncertainty for financial markets and economies the world over.
This also holds true for Zimbabwe, as the country gears for the harmonised elections on July 30.
Zimbabwean telecoms companies are expectedly to enjoy a windfall in profitability driven by internet and data revenue.
This comes as Zimbabweans across the country are turning to social media to get political updates, while candidates are also making use of information technology to reach out to the electorate through social media especially Facebook, Whatsapp and Twitter.
Regulator, the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ), said the sector anticipated further growth in data revenue as more consumers turn to over the top services that are internet-based.
“The year 2018 is also expected to witness growth in telecommunications revenues, largely driven by data and internet usage,” said POTRAZ in their sector performance report for the first quarter of 2018.
“Upcoming elections are likely to spur the usage of social media and data services, thus increasing the volume of internet usage. The hunger for data remains insatiable, and this will continues as a key focus area for all telecoms players,” said POTRAZ.
According to figures from POTRAZ, active internet penetration rate increased by 1, 3 percent to reach 52, 1 percent during the first quarter from 50, 8 percent recorded the comparable prior year period while active internet subscriptions increased by 3, 6 percent.
On the other hand, total mobile voice traffic decreased by 1 percent to 1, 1 billion minutes in the period under review from 1, 12 billion minutes recorded in the last quarter of 2017 as customers used internet based calling services such as Skype, Viber, Facebook and Whatsapp calls.
Industry experts contend that data and internet revenue will make a significant contribution towards the sector’s earnings with the rise in internet usage and social media.
Now with elections nearing, there is anticipated significant increase in demand for internet service as customers turn to social media for latest updates on political developments.
Already, voice is slowly taking a back seat while data and internet services are taking over as the main driver for sector growth.
“The industry is likely to see the contribution of data and internet to total revenue outpacing the voice revenue contribution,” said POTRAZ adding telecoms companies were also coming up with innovations to capitalise on data and internet usage.
Biggest mobile operator by subscribers and assets, Econet last year launched mobile based television services KweseTV which is also anticipated to further boost the group’s earnings.
The election period is not only bringing a windfall to telecoms firms only but a wide range of enterprises, both big and small.
These range from printers of t-shirts, caps, posters, fliers and suppliers of such materials. Food and beverages firms are also anticipated to enjoy a good run from the election.
Beverages maker, Delta for instance, has been tipped to have demand for its products skyrocket, especially alcohol at rallies and other political gatherings across the country.